First off, let me say this was the type of game we watch the NBA for. Whoever thinks the regular season doesn’t matter obviously doesn’t watch the great games like this; where the players are playing with playoff-intensity, and the best player on Earth goes off for 42.
While the Warriors were behind for most of the game, even when down double-digits, it never felt like they were out of it. That anticipation comes when you know two of the deadliest shooters in the game are on the Warriors, and that they could potentially go off at any moment.
Unfortunately for the Warriors, that never quite happened; what did happen was LeBron being fired up from the beginning. No matter what he says, this was an important game for him and the Cleveland Cavaliers. The media follows the season in two halves, before All-Star break and after, and taking down the best team in the NBA with a commanding performance is a statement to the world that they are serious contenders, especially with Derrick Rose out with surgery to his problematic right knee.
LeBron is a walking testament to old school basketball heads, who aren’t in love with the 3-point shot as much as the new wave of basketball people. While he drained multiple threes to keep the defense on their toes, his bread and butter was driving to the lane, posting up, and drawing fouls. He’s a deadly 3-point shooter in his own right, but he uses shots on the inside to build his momentum, get open looks for teammates, and takes threes when he has good looks.
This is what you expect from elite level players like LeBron. He is going to have nights where it’s impossible to contain him; and with the unselfish passing he possesses, he’s always going to make a team pay for over – committing on him.
Curry had problems creating with long, able defenders draped all over him. Iman Shumpart and Kyrie Irving are capable defenders who harassed him all night, and with no one other than David Lee getting into a rhythm offensively, there was no one else to draw attention away from him so he could get open looks. He had a few good drives, but he failed to get calls from the referees, and as a result struggled to score all night.
That’s the main knock on a team that doesn’t have the best inside presence; on a night like that where the open looks aren’t there, or simply aren’t being knocked down, it’s important to have a way to generate high-percentage buckets, so the other team never gets onto too much of a roll.
Just like in pickup basketball, when your team gets down 2-11 on a game to 15, you start playing not to lose. You take more three-pointers, rush plays, and overall the level of precision typically goes down a bit.
That being said, I do think that the Cavs got a bit of a break that the Splash Brothers were both cold; their defense on them was good, but they still had plenty of opens shots they simply missed. It would be an amazing Finals series if it were between these two teams, especially after the whole Kevin Love/Klay Thompson trade talk that consumed NBA Twitter talk for most of the summer.